John Dromgole, 62, Austin, Texas
This year sales are up 500%, and we're selling more vegetables than ever. A couple of years ago, I warned growers and nursery owners that a boom was coming. I was telling my suppliers I don't need perennials I need vegetables. People are working vegetables into their flower beds. Tomatoes are the most popular plant, and Renee's Garden seeds are a favorite among customers. News about salmonella outbreaks were a catalyst, but the economy really accelerated it. Instead of taking vacations, people are staying home and digging in. Part of it is spiritual. People want to go back to the old ways when times were simpler and they weren't over their head in debt. People are building community gardens, sharing crops with their neighbors. I have been giving classes on square-foot gardening, where people can grow a lot with just a little bit of light. This isn't a fad: Monsanto is buying up seed companies.